On a recent visit to Degustation, Chef Wesley apprised me of Ssam Bar’s late nite menu and nibbles. From Wednesday thru Saturday, Chef David Chang can be spotted creating delectable delights for the industry weary, and lord knows we always need a great late night spot to hang out and nosh in. You won’t find ramen here, but replace that with warm veal head terrine and spicy honeycombe tripe. Sounds a bit off the wall? Then try the fresh Spanish Mackerel Tataki, grilled squid salad or house staple, steamed buns. There is an homage to artisanal country hams. I particularly enjoyed Benton’s smoky Mountain from Tennessee. There are salads with crispy pork jowl and fried cauliflower in fish sauce, so you can see just how out there Chef Chang is willing to go.
The best late night snack is still available (oysters), and there is a fab cheese selection that will make you forget altogether about the bizarre mochi ice cream sampler. The menu changes quite often, and chefs and their staffs can be spotted near every night. All this makes for happy times and a tip of the hat to the man with the vision.
Finding the right bar for you can take several years, even in a city of a thousand bars. It takes a lot of pints and a little luck to discover that perfect bar stool.
Some summers past, while on a lunch break on the upper west side, I hit an ATM on 76th and Broadway. The short respite in a room with AC did not quench my thirst. I looked for any bar where I could avoid sight from my colleagues. My criteria were that it be a dive bar and close to work. I scanned, and across the street I spotted my oasis, the door guarded by a carved bear. The stunning blonde behind the bar in a cutoff T-shirt greeted me with a smile and a beer. I never made it back to work that day, and I’ve been a regular at Yogi’s ever since.
Like I said, I prefer my bars to be rundown and without an attitude. Yogi’s delivers on both fronts, unless you arrive with an attitude of your own. Don’t expect your martini in a cocktail glass with olives or onions as garnishes. Do expect your drinks to be cheap with plenty of buybacks. Of course tipping your bartender well always helps with the buyback aspect. Somehow at Yogi’s it seems less like tipping, more like helping a friend out with her rent. The girls behind the bar are all easy on the eyes and dress to accentuate their assets. In between slinging beers and cocktails they are happy to shoot the breeze with you or eagerly join you for a round of Car-bombs. Grab your beer off the bar if they get the urge to jump up for a little foot stomping. Your date will be encouraged to join. Some previous patrons have left their bras hanging from the décor as proof of a good time.
The jukebox. All it plays is country. While not a huge fan of country music, I can appreciate the sounds of Waylon, Willie, Merle or Mr. Cash. Besides, despite the jukebox, Yogi’s is not a country music bar. It just happens to have a country jukebox. The upper west side of New York has multiple personalities and the denizens of Yogi’s reflects that melting pot aspect. Locals of all social backgrounds mix with regulars, businessmen, and concert goers from the Beacon Theatre a few doors south.
It’s a cold day in December and I have to run out to the bank again. Don’t look for me at work this afternoon.